Important Information for Allergy Sufferers
|Important Information for Allergy Sufferers
May 13, 2005 09:52 AM
Author: Darrell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Important Information for Allergy Sufferers
Important Information for Allergy SufferersRichard Conant, L.Ac. C.N.
Imagine you are one among millions who greet each spring with worry about the flood of pollen that fills the air this time of year. When the pollen season arrives, as it inevitably does, you find yourself with two choices. You can either take over-the-counter antihistamines and put up with unpleasant side-effects, or endure the sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and other discomforts of hay fever.
If there was a natural ingredient, a nutritional substance found throughout nature in many foods and plants, that could offer an alternative, would you not be interested?
Quercetin, one among hundreds of flavonoids found throughout the plant kingdom, is this ingredient. Quercetin has been researched in numerous pharmacological studies. The results of this work strongly suggest that quercetin helps to stabilize the fundamental process in the body which causes an allergic reaction. Quercetin, as shown in test-tube ("in vitro") studies, prevents the release of histamine from "mast cells," immune cells that stand guard in the tissues which meet the outside environment—the nasal passages, the lungs, the digestive tract and skin. While this has yet to be confirmed by human clinical trials, in the picture that emerges from the research so far, quercetin looks like a rescue nutrient for allergy sufferers.
Reports from Quercetin Users
I have seen numerous reports from individuals who have indeed achieved significant reductions in allergic sensitivity by using quercetin. And this includes food allergies as well as environmental allergies. Anecdotal stories like these carry little weight among scientists, because they do not provide evidence that the observed result will be repeated in other cases. Only placebo-controlled, double-blind studies can produce this kind of scientific proof. Yet, when anectodal evidence (this includes physician "case reports") correlates with the results of pharmacological research such as we have on quercetin, I believe it should be taken seriously. And quercetin is a nutrient that works effectively when taken as a dietary supplement.
For example, one gentleman writes that his wife, who is allergic to pollen and dust, is now "sneeze-free" after using quercetin for three years. A Pennsylvania woman writes that her husband, also a long time allergy sufferer, "seems to be nearly allergy free" after one month of use. Another man says that "quercetin has literally changed my life." These are not isolated cases; a respected nutritionist who specializes in allergies and environmental problems has seen many similar outcomes with a quercetin. Clearly something significant is going on with respect to quercetin as a nutritional approach for overcoming allergies.
Bear in mind, though, that quercetin does not function like an antihistamine medication; it is not a quick fix. As a nutrient that helps to normalize body functions naturally, quercetin needs time to work, and should be taken for at least two or three weeks to achieve these results.
Exerting a broad range of biological effects, quercetin is perhaps the most active and versatile flavonoid. In test-tube studies, quercetin acts directly on the mast cell in a way that quiets the allergic response.
An allergic reaction occurs when IgE antibodies, positioned on the mast cell surface, come in contact with a potential allergy-causing substance like pollen. The mast cell is then signaled to release histamine from storage granules located inside the cell, through a process called "degranulation." The histamine circulates throughout the body, causing the runny nose, itching and other discomforts associated with allergies.
Quercetin stabilizes mast cell membranes, in effect turning down the allergic response signal. Quercetin also slows other mechanisms which are involved with inflammation, such as the production of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. This adds to its membrane-stabilizing effect, and its value in allergy control.
Quercetin appears to substantially raise the threshold for initiation of an allergic reaction. In allergy sufferers this threshold is low, for reasons which are not well understood. They may have more IgE antibodies than normal, making the mast cells overly "trigger happy." Histamine has its proper place in the immune response that defends us against truly harmful foreign substances in the body. But like many chemicals produced by the body, histamine is a two-edged sword. In allergy-prone individuals, the mast cells have become overreactive, releasing too much histamine, unnecessarily. With quercetin in the bloodstream, histamine release from mast cells is kept under control. Quercetin's ability to down-regulate both the inflammatory and allergic responses makes it, I believe, a highly important nutrient for humans to consume on a regular basis.
Quercetin-the Scientific Evidence
Several studies, published in respected journals such as the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and others, have demonstrated quercetin's ability to control the release of histamine from mast cells. (Quercetin has the same effect on basophils, a type of white blood cell that also contains histamine.) In these experiments, mast cells taken from both animals and humans are exposed in the test tube to various substances—called "antigens"— that stimulate histamine release. The researchers then add an inhibiting agent such as quercetin to the mixture and measure the differences in histamine output. Quercetin has shown itself to be one of the more powerful histamine inhibitors, more powerful, in fact, than disodium cromoglycate, an anti-asthma drug.
Quercetin has other beneficial properties. A strong antioxidant, Quercetin has a higher level of antioxidant activity than both vitamin C and vitamin E. (Quercetin enhances the antioxidant activity of vitamin C; quercetin and vitamin C are true synergists.) Quercetin has been shown to block the oxidation of LDL cholesterol by free radicals. Quercetin also protects cell membranes from being injured by oxidized LDL. The damage that oxidized LDL causes to the delicate membranes of blood vessel linings allows plaque deposits to form, setting the stage for atheroslcerosis. These observations point to quercetin as a key nutrient for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Like all flavonoids, quercetin is not classified as an essential nutrient, although flavonoids were once called "Vitamin P." In view of its many beneficial actions, quercetin is a nutrient that clearly has important roles to play in human nutrition, for allergy sufferers, and for everyone.
VitaNet ® Staff